Monday, October 31, 2005

Writers Can't Help But Dance

I have to admit it. My life is surrounded by books and writing and plays and ever more words. Fortunately, I am married to someone who has the same caliber of bookish values as I do. Our usual night out might include dinner, followed by a poetry reading, an inexpensive, local play, a bookstore browsing session or a coffeehouse to read or write while sipping java. So it was a little unusual when we both signed up for a dance class together at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Or was it?

Before I was a writer, I was a dancer. I used to tear it up on the disco floor. Before that, I took ballet, tap and acrobatics for seven years. My husband, too, had studied Aztec ceremonial dancing and knows a lot of other tribal steps.

So last weekend, we revisited and explored our dancer selves once again, and set a new foot forward into the dance mode, tripping the light fantastic, starting with Mexican Folkloric dancing. We moved our feet quickly to follow the pattern of the teacher's staccato dance steps, which seemed to be landing in a combination of dance locales -- reminiscent of Irish stepdancing, tap and flamenco.

While I danced, I remembered how years ago, a poet friend Effie created a literary magazine called "Salome," entirely devoted to dance. I had contributed a number of dance poems and also helped her edit others' submissions. Effie took all sorts of dance classes as both afficianado and researcher, and reviewed the performances of any dance troupe that came through town. She invited me to a few of the modern dance classes, to participate, and to a vast number of performances, to perform as spectator. At one venue we frequented, MoMing Dance Theater, my then future husband worked in its artist-in-residence program. We met for real years later.

But back to the Mexican Zapateado class. We danced solo. We danced as a pair. We danced in a circle with all the others. We danced in a line dance. There was guitar, clapping, our feet stamping, a singer shreiking calls and songs, a loud din of energy and mindless release and memory. Afterward, we were exhausted but invigorated. The possibilities of where these out-of-mind and into-body experiences could take us seemed endless. But one look at the syllabus and we learned that in weeks to come our feet would venture to the middle of Amazon country in a traditional Indian dance, to Northeast Brazil, home of the farro, and finish off doing the samba like it's carnivale.

But come on, shouldn't you be sitting alone in your room writing in your journal? For the most part, that sounds pretty good to me. But there arrives a time to come hear the music play. Because writers can't help but dance. And dancers can't help but write. ◦

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Vacation Journal Keepsakes

Creating Keepsakes Magazine sent me an e-mail filled with free journaling tips. The tips cover journaling and scrapbooking ideas, and as far as I'm concerned, embrace the photographer's or artist's journal or blogsite, which intersect the visual with the written.

According to Creating Keepsakes: Gone are the days of journaling with nondescript accounts like: "It was fun." We now journal about our life experiences in the same voice we'd use to tell stories to a close friend over a cup of java. Thanks to an increase in e-mail, message boards and blog communications, we are now driven to write about everyday experiences—and that's what tells the story of our lives.

Although a great photograph can tell a story, the written word completes the tale. That's why journaling is so important! Not only is journaling a powerful part of the page's meaning, but a vital feature of its design as well. How it's written, presented, attached and included can help polish your page and take your words from meaningful to truly memorable.

Before leaving on vacation, create a short list for yourself of questions to answer at the end of each day, such as: "What was my favorite thing about today?" or "What was something new I tried today?" This way, when you scrapbook those vacation pages, you'll be able to remember exactly how you felt. ◦

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Journal Writing Blogosphere

Technorati Profile

Journal Writing Tips with a Twist became a member of and today. By doing so, I was able to "claim" the blog. I learned through a special webcast that the above were suggested blog directories worth a visit. After visiting, I determined that these sites are much more, as well as design-conscious and user friendly. is a search engine that also analyzes and reports on daily activity in the blogosphere. It features links to the top blog posts, top blogs, and top news stories. I was able to submit my blog to this site. seems a little more radical, hip and casual, and features top searches of the hour, most popular books, most popular movies and the 100 top blogs. I "claimed" my blog through them, "pinging" a link to their search engine, and hope to find out in the coming weeks what that may mean in increased hits and more outreach to journal writers, teachers, librarians, and program directors.

I also visited a blog directory site called, which seemed clunky looking, heavy on politics, exuding an insider's clubby atmosphere, and didn't have a place to submit your blog.